Many women make the choice to get breast implants - almost 300,000 of them every year. Most women at some point in their lives will also make the choice to have children. Does having breast implants affect the ability of these women to breastfeed their children? Women want to know if they can still breastfeed if they have their breasts surgically altered.
First, it’s important to acknowledge that any kind of breast surgery could potentially cause damage to the milk ducts in the breast. This is why Dr. Feldman recommends to all of his patients that they wait three to six months after completely stopping breastfeeding before getting breast implants.
However, many young women want to make improvements to their bodies before they know if they will want to have children or before they meet the men they’ll want to have children with. Most women do not know how many children they will want to have before they’ve had one or more. It’s hard to know the answers to these questions before you’ve been a parent.
The good news is, the odds are in your favor in terms of breastfeeding, even if you do get breast implants. If you were able to breastfeed prior to having breast augmentation surgery, you should be able to breastfeed after. If you’ve never been pregnant, tell your doctor up front in your initial consultation. Dr. Feldman will not offer incisions through the areola for women who desire children as this cuts through the breast ducts and has the highest chance of interfering with breastfeeding. This is another reason why submuscular breast implant placement is important. Placing implants under the breast, and under the muscle, will likely not affect your ability to breastfeed.
Some women decide to have breast augmentation because of malformations of the breast that can be more complex to fix. These would include women with insufficient glandular tissue and those with widely spaced, tubular, or asymmetrical breasts. However, for young women with normal breasts who seek to have them enlarged, the surgery is straightforward and unlikely to cause difficulties with breastfeeding later on.
How pregnancy and childbearing affect a woman’s figure will always be relevant to women who desire plastic surgery because of their desire to remain beautiful over time. Last month we discussed how pregnancy can affect a tummy tuck, and this time we will talk about how it affects breast augmentation.
Many young women who make the investment of breast augmentation before they start their families worry that getting breast implants will affect their ability to care for and nurse their children. They also worry that pregnancy will negatively affect the appearance of their breasts and undo the work that they’ve had done.
The good news is that breast implants generally do not adversely affect a woman’s ability to nurse. Since doctors recommend breastfeeding as being important to ensure both a baby’s nutritional intake and immune system functioning, that’s important. Fortunately, it’s unlikely the implant will compromise the breast’s functionality. Whether the mother produces enough milk or the baby latches is independent of prior augmentation.
Previously we’ve talked about the importance of submuscular breast implant placement for numerous reasons, especially the overall appearance of the breast after surgery, but sub-muscular, when placed through breast crease, also means that the implant will not disrupt the breast gland or the milk ducts to the nipple, so women with implants placed in this manner should still be able to breastfeed their babies. This means that the full range of choices a mother has about nursing likely will still be available to her.
Unfortunately, childbearing does change the appearance of a woman’s breasts. While at least one scientific study of 120 mothers with breast implants showed that breastfeeding did not affect the appearance of their breasts, that does not mean women with implants will not experience sagging. The sagging that women are afraid will occur from nursing actually occurs due to the enlargement of their breasts during pregnancy - which, of course, can’t be avoided if women choose to give birth. This means your results are impacted more so from the life event than the implant. Unfortunately, there is no warranty from changes resulting from pregnancy.
One of the questions we hear at Bancroft Feldman is how soon after my surgery can I tan - either in a tanning bed or outside?
We understand that our patients are excited about their new look. They want to put on a bathing suit, go to the beach, or add color to their skin to help along the aesthetic they’re creating. However, tanning and breast augmentation do not go together entirely well. This is true for a number of reasons.
First of all, there’s post-operation healing to consider. For any surgical procedure you have, it’s vital to carefully follow all post-surgical instructions if you want to heal more quickly and experience less pain and scarring. You're bikini doesn't have enough support for fresh implants. Exposure to UV rays, whether from the sun or from a tanning bed, can adversely affect healing, and poor healing usually means worse scarring. At a minimum, you should not tan for the six months following your procedure, and you should always use a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. Additionally, scarred skin does not react exactly like healthy skin to ultraviolet radiation, and hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin can occur. Keep your scars covered from the sun for a full year to avoid hyperpigmentation.
Second, it’s much more possible that you will sunburn your breasts after your surgery if you expose them to UV light. You may experience some numbness in your breasts during your recovery period, and with less sensation, you are also less likely to notice sunburning until it has already happened. That prickling feeling your skin gets after a certain amount of time in the sun is how your body warns you that your time is up, but your body may not be able to communicate the same thing immediately following surgery.
Finally, generally speaking, tanning is not good for skin health or elasticity. You are much more likely to develop wrinkles, brown spots, sagging skin, and even skin cancers over time from tanning. Many celebrities are abandoning tanning in order to maintain their skin, and choosing a spray tan option if they want to have the same tanned beauty aesthetic. The use of occasional spray tans or bronzers are a safer and healthier option than constant exposure to UV rays. You can spray tan a few weeks after augmentation.
The media likes to highlight bad plastic surgery, particularly celebrities who have undergone plastic surgery with less than ideal outcomes. They take pictures and post them with glee, and many women wonder why these people who have so many resources available to them have this happen. Is it because anyone who undergoes breast augmentation is doomed to have rippled or otherwise strange looking breasts eventually?
There are only three factors that contribute to a breast augmentation result:
Surgical Technique - This includes type of implant, implant placement, the skill and experience of the surgeon
Patient Anatomy - What your breasts start like is the single largest influence on your result
When women are deciding about whether they want to explore breast implants as an option for improving their body aesthetic, they often pay more attention to other women’s breasts - particularly models or celebrities - to get an idea for the possibilities. A wish list is what many of our patients call it. If you’re going to take a chance on finally getting the breasts you want, you want to have a good idea of what breasts those are. Makes sense, right?
There are, however, some pitfalls in choosing your breasts from a catalog, a magazine, or a picture of another woman found online. Here are several to consider when you’re considering your wish list:
It can be difficult to separate overall beauty and good looking breasts. Often what attracts your eye to a specific picture might not involve a woman’s breasts at all. It might be the lighting, the setting, what the people are doing, or the emotional response the photographer is trying to elicit. While breast augmentation can give you a fuller, perkier breasts, it won’t change your face, make your hair fuller, longer, or curlier, or add six inches to your height. It’s important to focus on the improvements you want made to your breasts.
Photographs frequently are faked. You may be looking at a picture of a woman whose body type is similar to yours and has also had breast implants. But if that picture is airbrushed or photoshopped, you’re not seeing what her breasts really look like, only an ideal of what the person who designed the image you’re viewing thought she should look like.
Clothing can complicate or obscure. Your new breasts will look different clothed or unclothed, in a bikini, in a push-up bra, or covered by layers of fabric. Comparing those breasts to another woman’s breasts when they are obscured by clothing is the ultimate in apples to oranges.
The above video from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery beautifully illustrates another reason we hear from our patients about why they are considering breast implants: the difference it will make in how they wear their clothes.
Feeling beautiful in your own skin and the clothes you choose to wear is something some people never experience, but many of our patients say that they are more confident in their appearance and more likely to be social after cosmetic surgery because they finally feel attractive to others. Very few people are blessed with perfect figures, and while clothes can and are designed to minimize figure flaws and play up personal strengths, knowing that, underneath the clothes, their bodies look great too gives many people an extra boost.
Many women with smaller breasts simply desire to know what it feels like to live with more ample cleavage. They want to be able to attract people who prefer bigger breasts or breasts that are younger looking and not sagging. They want that confidence that often comes with better cleavage. It’s common to hear about people in certain professions, such as acting or modeling, making surgical alterations to themselves to further their careers, but the need for confidence isn’t limited to people in entertainment. Women with business careers often feel a need to stand out to be competitive. Self-confidence is always an asset, professionally or socially.
When a woman decides to have breast augmentation, size of her breasts in the present and the future is a big part of her motivation. She has an idea in her mind of what she would like her improved breasts to look like. But is there a “right” sized breast for any one individual and how do you choose between a “B,” a “C,” or a “DD” implant? There are a number of factors that go into making that decision, but the volume of the implant itself is the least important of them.
In order to be comfortable and look right your breast implant must be sized to fit your chest, you breast envelope, and your goals. We’ll explain what these mean. It's not as simple as just picking a cup size. Additionally, creating a "wish list" of photos of other breasts are not predictive of your results. What your breasts look like now is the single largest influence on your result!
Chest - The correct breast implant needs to match the patient’s overall figure. This is more difficult than it looks as there are a number of factors that affect breast appearance including height, ribcage and chest circumference, shoulder size, and current cup size.
Patients who have breast augmentation look forward to purchasing bras to showcase their new breasts, but they may not realize how important choosing the right bra is. This is especially true in the beginning, post-surgery, but also over time to make sure both that both the comfort with and appearance of the implants are maintained.
Immediately following surgery, Dr. Bancroft and Dr. Feldman provide their patients to with a surgical sports bra and specific instructions about wearing it following the procedure. This will help the breasts to heal and the breast implants to remain in the desired position. Patients should be sleeping on their backs for at least 12 weeks. Back sleeping is best for people with implants to prevent implant migration into their armpits. If, after the 12 week healing period, patients want to try sleeping in a side position, they should continue to wear the sports bra at night. We do not recommend stomach sleeping. This will cause the implants to move into the armpit region.
After the period of healing is complete, patients should wear normal supportive bras during the day. They should get sized before purchasing a bra in order to ensure that its is the right size and has the support necessary for the implants, and the new heavier breasts. Underwire bras are acceptable as long at they fit the implant/breast and do not “dig in.” We do not recommend any one brand or style, as everyone’s chest and ribs are different. Any brand should do as long as you get a “pop” or “push up” from the bra. This demonstrates that the bra is supporting the weight of the implant, instead of the skin.
Patients should not wear tight fitting or compressive sports bras without a defined cup or side support that just “smash” the breasts, either when sleeping or exercising. For people with natural breasts, this may work as the tighter the sports bra, the better it is, but for breasts that have implants, side and bottom support is essential. For someone with breast implants the goal of a sports bra is support pushing upwards and inwards to ensure the implants don’t move down or to the side over time. More support or compression is not always better as an extremely tight or poorly fitting bra especially when worn during the critical post-operative healing period (12 weeks), may prevent the breast implants from settling correctly, or deform the breast shape which might require further surgery to correct.
We recommend a sports bra withbuilt in cups, underwire or side panel that will contain and support the weight of the implant. We find a sports bra similar to the VSX line at Victoria’s Secret that has a padded underwire to be very popular with our patients. We will provide your surgical bra with a front closure to make it easier to put on and off after surgery, but after 2 weeks you can switch to back closure if you prefer or they fit better.